Saturday, January 31, 2015

Read a bit more of Andre Gide's The Immoralist for a Craft of Translation class I'm taking with Geoff Brock. What we are doing is reading two different translations of some modern European novels and comparing them - or, at least, reading one and comparing the important passages.

I've never read anything by Gide before, at least that I can remember. I know he was a Nobel laureate, but you don't hear his name bandied about that munch. Though that might just be because he was writing in French and my knowledge of the modern novel outside of English is comparatively poor outside of the stuff everyone knows. Actually, my knowledge of modern non-English poetry is also pretty poor. I'm stuck in the past I suppose.

I do like the novel well enough, it--how shall I say this, it tastes French. You can tell it was written by a Frenchman.  There are passages in it about being watched by others that remind me of things from Satre's "Existentialism is a Humanism" - I begin to wonder if this metacognitive awareness of deriving ones emotions from looking at people looking at you is a particularly French phenomenon. I think it is true enough as something that happens in every life, but I always thought Sartre gave such things too much universal currency. Or maybe it is just that we in English speaking countries do not want to admit the extent to which social realities beyond reason control our own psychological makeup. But I'm just being diplomatic to say that - I really think its a crap idea.

Lots of color in the book, and homoeroticism directed at young boys (I haven't gotten to the part with the straight up pederasty at this point, so its all just -eroticism at this point.)  I read that Said thought this novel was a perfect example of Orientalism, and I see his point - but on the other hand, I think purely historical or sociocultural approaches to literature are, well, they're dumb. All of those things are valid, but there is more to literature than that, there are parts of literature that transcend that, and I think most writers of every race, gender, sexuality, etc., when they write, are writing for something bigger than identity politics. But whatever, I am white and straight, and I if I wasn't maybe I wouldn't think that. But I still do.

Now, about to start MGS: Peace Walker HD. Sold back my PSP before I had the chance to try it.

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